Part of the reason I started this Tumblr is not only to get those rants in writing, but to compile information on abortion that’s kind of hard to find all in one place. Seriously, look at the list of sources at the bottom of this post. It’s a lot o’ stuff.
So! Let’s talk about abortion procedures! This is going to be a series of posts, since there are approximately a bajillion zillion procedures and I want to go into detail about each of them to clear up any misconceptions.
We’ll start with medication abortions, since those are the procedures used early in a pregnancy. According to the CDC, early medication abortions accounted for 13.1% of all abortions in the United States. Medication abortion can be used up to 9 weeks after the first day of a person’s last period. Planned Parenthood puts the cost anywhere from $300-$800, which I assume depends on a number of factors, like the clinic and the patient’s ability to pay. Abortion ain’t cheap, kids, but it’s cheaper than kids.
There are three steps to a medication abortion. Mifepristone, aka RU-486, brand name Mifeprex, is the most well-known abortion pill. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which sustains the uterine lining. Without progesterone, the uterine lining breaks down, and the pregnancy cannot continue. Bleeding may start once this pill is taken. Mifepristone is taken at the clinic along with antibiotics.
Up to three days after taking the first pill, misoprostol is taken orally or vaginally to cause the uterus to contract and expel its contents. This can be done in the privacy of your own home, which many people prefer. You may also get medications to help deal with the symptoms, such as cramps, diarrhea, nausea, chills, and vomiting. Oh, and expelling the contents of your uterus. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun. According to Mifeprex’s website, bleeding or spotting lasts for an average of 9-16 days, but can last up to a month. So, like a month-long period. AWESOME.
Two weeks after the first pill is taken, you have to go in for a follow-up appointment to make sure everything’s going well and that the abortion is complete. This is really important, so don’t skip it. If the abortion is incomplete, suction abortion may be required. Approximately 95-98% of cases end in complete abortion, and less than 1% experience an ongoing pregnancy after a medication abortion (seriously, how much would that suck?).
There’s another, less common type of medication abortion, which uses methotrexate. Methotrexate was approved by the FDA in 1953 to treat certain types of cancer, since it interferes with cell growth. It stops the growth of embryonic and placental cells and is often used to treat ectopic pregnancies, or a pregnancy that occurs outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tubes. Methotrexate is administered in pill or injection form, and misoprostol is taken vaginally 3-7 days later. Methotrexate tends to take longer than other mifepristone, but for those for whom the pregnancy occurs outside the womb, degradation of the uterine lining (caused by mifepristone) isn’t really going to help, so…
You have no excuse for not knowing how medication abortion works now! Hurray!
(ETA: I went a little overboard with the sources. Most of them say similar things. I’ve included links to abortion funds and counseling at the end of the list.)
OH MY GOD HOW ARE THERE MORE LINKS ALREADY
Methotrexate and misoprostol for abortion (yeah it’s WebMD, so sue me)
A kitten in a top hat and monocle, for your troubles.